Falls are Often Fatal in Illinois Nursing Homes

122815(3)Though nursing homes in Illinois are designed to be safe places for elderly and ill residents to live, they present significant dangers to their residents as countless incidents of nursing home abuse and neglect happen in them every year. Some instances of misconduct are readily apparent and can be easily identified by family members, including physical abuse that results in burns, bruising, or broken bones. Other forms of neglect are much more difficult to discern and can be very hard to uncover unless a facility and/or its employees admit to the acts. Examples may include failing to provide adequate nutrition to a patient, failing to assist the resident with daily tasks like dressing and personal care, and failing to help the patient during transfers from a bed to a chair and back.

Falls in a nursing home setting are often overlooked as mere accidents or as situations that could not have been prevented but the opposite is true. While residents do not intend to fall down, falls often happen because staff members allow them to happen. Staff may be stretched too thin or overworked and therefore unable to supervise a patient as closely as they should. Or staff members may not review prior notes in a patient’s chart and therefore not realize that a patient is a fall risk.

Falls in a long term care facility are one of the most common manifestations of neglect.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 1.4 million people aged 65 and older live in nursing homes right now in America, or about five percent of the population in that age group. However, nursing home patients make up approximately 20 percent of all fatalities caused in fall accidents with adults aged 65 and older even though a small portion of the population can be found in these facilities, highlighting the fact that nursing home patients are killed in falls more often than those of a similar age who do not live in a home.

That is a troubling statistic. After all, most people place a family member or a loved one in a nursing home so that he or she can get the attention and care needed to live a safe and comfortable life. Yet the CDC reports that between half and three-fourths of nursing home patients fall every year and that about 1,800 people in nursing homes die from falls annually.

Some nursing home patients are more likely to fall due to physical or mental disabilities. These patients should still be kept from harm by attentive and alert staff members who assist them as needed. Residents who are deemed to be “fall risks” should not be allowed to wander unsupervised through a facility or its grounds but rather should be escorted where appropriate by a trained individual who can assist the resident when needed.

Falls are not a normal part of life in an Illinois nursing home even though they are incredibly common. Victims who fall and are injured may be protected by state laws which guarantee them the right to seek relief but unfortunately, nothing can undo the harm that was caused in a fall or to repair a family if a victim loses her life.

Prior Blog Entry:

Recommendation Made to Change Terminology from Pressure Ulcer to Pressure Injury, Illinois Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Blog, published May 17, 2016.

Resource:

Falls in Nursing Homes, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, published June 30, 2015.